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The Enneagram and Relationships - Learning to Receive - Part 1

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This month in our Growing with the Enneagram evening on November 23, we will be learning about how the Enneagram can help us in our relationships. One of the key elements of this is recognizing what the different Enneagram types have to give and being willing to receive these gifts. Most people honestly desire to give to and to participate with others in some way, and we can relate to them better by genuinely understanding and receiving those gifts.

While everyone is unique in their life situations and circumstances, the different Enneagram types tend to have similar foci of attention. Enneagram Ones, for instance, out of their essential nature of goodness, desire to help people improve and be the best they can be. Most Ones have a strong insight into the best potential for people and situations.  However, the flipside of this insight is zeroing in on what is wrong or what needs improvement. Those on the receiving end of that zeroing in can sometimes take it poorly, interpreting it as excessive criticism. One of the keys to relating well with Enneagram Ones is acknowledging their genuine desire to see others become the best they can be. We can receive their critique, and even criticism, as well intentioned, as a way that they are trying to help and love rather than harm, and we can give honest consideration to their words and suggestions.

Out of their essential nature of love, Enneagram Twos focus on positive, warm and caring relationships between people. Twos often have a strong insight into what people need and how to truly care for people. The flipside for Twos is that they can be too clingy, too pushy, or try to enmesh themselves too much in others' lives. Twos may know what we need, but that doesn’t mean we want it from them. But we can keep our boundaries in place, and, at the same time, acknowledge and be grateful for their willingness to care. In most situations we can find some words of honest positive feedback, and that will go a long way toward improving relationships with an Enneagram Two.

Enneagram Threes tend to focus on achieving, accomplishments, and doing.  This flows from their essential nature of efficacy. Sometimes this drive to achieve and succeed can seem overly competitive, unfeeling, or even inauthentic to others. Most of us are sensitive to being out done or “pushed” by threes. But we can, when appropriate, receive their “push” as encouragement to pick up our own game and accomplish more ourselves, and we can be grateful for the many ways they contribute and inspire. Each of us, and the world in general, benefit greatly from Enneagram Threes’ focus on getting things done.

Enneagram Fours value originality, beauty, style, and excellence. They place a high emphasis on feelings, both their own and others. This can be very difficult for those who are unused to expressing or dealing with so much emotion. Often, when relating to Enneagram Fours, we have to stop and look at a situation, or the world in general, from a point of view we don’t visit very much.  Our culture is more geared to the Enneagram Three value of achievement and accomplishment. Fours remind us that life is about more than just the physical, measurable, and tangible. We can receive their “difference” not as a judgment of us, but as a caring encouragement not to miss the beauty in ourselves and the world.

The essential nature of Enneagram Fives is wisdom. They have insight into how things work and how they work together. They like to discover, to figure out, to synthesize and they are often talented in understanding complex systems. But, in order to do this, they need and value time and space to be alone and think. Fives’ tendency to physically and emotionally withdraw can send all kinds of unintended messages to others, particularly those who desire more contact or feedback. Relating well with Fives has to include a willingness to give them the space they need and also providing ways for them to return to more connection by valuing what they do in those times alone. We can receive from fives by valuing their ideas and contributions -- what they discover about people, the world and themselves.

More to come in the next blog – types six through nine.

Read 1516 times Last modified on 15.11.2017
Sam Drew

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